Attorney General Steve Marshall: Price gouging illegal during coronavirus pandemic
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is warning those who would seek to illegally profit from the current public health emergency related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that Alabama’s price gouging law has officially been activated.
Last week, Governor Kay Ivey formally declared a State Public Health Emergency in Alabama due to the state’s first confirmed case of coronavirus on Friday.
Alabama’s price gouging law automatically comes into effect when the governor declares a State of Emergency, and it prohibits the “unconscionable pricing” of items for sale or rent.
“Alabamians should be on guard against those who would seek to prey upon them through price gouging of commodities and services for consumption or use as a direct result of the public health emergency,” Marshall said in a statement. “Furthermore, those who seek to profit during this time of emergency through price gouging will be subject to the law.”
The attorney general also released a video on the issue.
What constitutes an “unconscionable” price is not specifically set forth in state law. However, a price that is 25% or more above the average price charged in the same area within the last 30 days — unless the increase can be attributed to a reasonable cost in connection with the rental or sale of the commodity — is a prima facie case of unconscionable pricing, per Marshall’s office. The penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 per violation, and those determined to have willfully and continuously violated this law may be prohibited from doing business in the state.
Alabamians who want to file an illegal price gouging report are encouraged to do so online here.
You can also call 1-800-392-5658 to receive a form by mail to complete and return or you may write the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, 501 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama, 36130.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn